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Keywords:

  • Tattoo;
  • body art;
  • personality;
  • sensation seeking;
  • need for Uniqueness;
  • sociosexual orientation

Swami, V. (2012). Written on the body? Individual differences between British adults who do and do not obtain a first tattoo. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 407–412.

This study compared individual psychological differences of individuals who do and not obtain their first tattoo. A total of 136 British residents visiting a tattoo parlour completed measures of the Big Five personality factors, Sensation Seeking, Need for Uniqueness, distinctive appearance investment, attitudes to authority, and sociosexual orientation. As compared to individuals who did not subsequently obtain a tattoo, individuals that did were significantly less conscientious, more extraverted, more willing to engage in sexual relations in the absence of commitment, and had higher scores on sensation seeking, Need for Uniqueness, and distinctive appearance investment. The effect sizes of uncovered differences were small-to-moderate (ηp= .07–.14). These results are discussed in relation to the mainstreaming of tattoos in contemporary, post-industrialised societies.